Ever since I wrote the word in my last post, I can't get it off my mind. It is with me constantly, like the invisible presence of a new love, and like a new love, it's opened something in me.
When I think of tenderness, I think of babies, puppies, daughters, the delicate sprout of a tiny seedling folding itself out of the brown earth; things that are new, helpless, sweet; things and beings that are pure and untarnished; that are vulnerable, and need warmth, care, and nurturing to thrive and grow.
It never dawned on me what an amazing act it would be to be tender toward oneself. Even though I've bandied the idea of self-love about with the best of them, until recently, until the word tenderness became my new and constant companion, it was always a concept from the head rather than a knowing of the heart. It started a few weeks ago when the idea of radical self-acceptance dawned on me, self-acceptance toward all the things in me and about me that are flawed and imperfect, that make me wholly human, that might be hard sometimes to be around, that I've been shamed for, that I've been ashamed of. And it was huge, this bright new notion, like the shifting of earth's tectonic plates, and it opened a new doorway, and in the past few days something has been melting, and tenderness has flowed in and out through that passage, and with tenderness, automatically streams its counterparts, love and compassion and kindheartedness, and they are all glowing in me, like a soft yellow lamp on a gray winter's day.
Tenderness. How fascinating that it refers to both the hurting and the healing. These places in me have been tender; raw and painful, an achy, bruised, chronic tenderness. And now tenderness comes along... and wraps the vulnerable, innocent one in its loving, caring, affectionate tender arms.